TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office has a warning for residents across the state: someone may have your personal information and may be filing for unemployment benefits.
Officials say this latest identity theft scam is sweeping the country. “This is unacceptable,” said DA Sharen Wilson. “At a time when people need help, they are having their identities stolen and fake unemployment claims filed.”READ MORE: North Texas Law Enforcement Disappointed In Gov. Abbott's Veto Of Domestic Violence Education Bill
The advice from the office — stay alert, document any problem and report identity theft to local police.
Scammers may be getting personal information from data breaches in recent years.READ MORE: Dallas County DA Reverses Plans To Seek Death Penalty For Alleged Serial Killer Billy Chemirmir
Many people learn they are victims when they receive paperwork about a claim they didn’t file, or when their employer notifies them about a claim.
The Texas Workforce Commission has boosted efforts to thwart fake benefit claims, but between March 2020 and April 2021 the agency has received more than 4.4 million unemployment applications. Of those, 611,000 claims were suspicious, and most were blocked before benefits were paid.
Here are some steps to take if your identity has been stolen —MORE NEWS: 'New Personnel & Procedures, Insufficient Oversight' Led To Texas Execution Without Media Present
- File an ID theft report with your local police department
- File an ID theft claim with TWC or contact the fraud department at TWC by email or by calling 800-252-3642
- File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud or call their hotline at 866-720-5721
- Consider contacting a national credit bureau – TransUnion, Experian or Equifax – to put a fraud alert on your account or freeze your credit
“You have to be proactive,” said Assistant DA Lloyd Whelchel. “You can’t sit back and wait. Document everything and notify officials that you’ve been a victim. You need to clearly establish that this was not you.”